Singapore Airlines plans to boost flights to Australia this year and may even bring its new Airbus A350 to Sydney or Melbourne.
The Star Alliance member and Virgin Australia partner enjoys continued popularity among Australian travellers and with solid bookings on all routes “we’re looking at almost double- digit growth for the first quarter” of 2016, says regional vice-president Mr Tiow Kor Tan, “so we are looking at more capacity, (maybe) a 7% increase.”
In an Australian Business Traveller survey held last year some 43% of readers preferred Singapore as their stopover on flights to Europe or the UK, compared to just 11% for Qantas’ Dubai hub.
India is also proving an especially strong drawcard for business travellers, with Singapore Airlines offering a wealth of flights from Australia to Singapore and then onwards to all of India’s major business hubs.
Sydney, Melbourne move to five daily flights?
Sydney’s SQ251/252 service, which typically runs three days a week outside of the peak summer season, is likely to become a permanent daily service, Tan says.
Melbourne could also see a fifth daily flight or a long-term return of the Airbus A380 superjumbo, which will re-appear on the Melbourne-Singapore route of SQ217/218 three days a week from June through September.
“Of course Melbourne Airport is very keen to see our A380 come back” Tan admits, but with the airline’s superjumbo fleet fully committed and no new A380s due from 2017 “it’s all about how we could adjust our present aircraft resources.”
Brisbane will also get a serve of the SQ love with a new lounge and a likely upgrade for one flight to deliver the latest lie-flat business class seats (below) in place of angled lie-flat beds.
“We will progressively in 2016 change the aircraft type with lie-flat beds to Brisbane” Tan tells Australian Business Traveller.
“More and more airlines are flying (to Brisbane) with lie-flat product” Tan says, in a nod to Qantas’ A330 Business Suites, “so we also have to move towards that.”
New Brisbane lounge
The airline’s new Brisbane SilverKris lounge is expected to open in February and will adopt the relaxed 'home away from home' concept of its Sydney sibling.
There’s also a chance – albeit a slim one – of Singapore Airlines flying one of its new A350s to Australia by years’ end.
“There may be a possibility of one A350 to come to Australia” Tan allows, “but this is only (on the) basis that we may use a Boeing 777 for something else and put the A350 here.”
SQ’s first Aussie A350s are more likely to arrive in 2017 and be part of the airline’s medium-range A350 fleet rather than the initial long-range jets.
Within Australia, Singapore Airlines will also work to raise the profile of its partnership with Virgin Australia and a new alliance with Lufthansa and Swiss.
“With Virgin Australia the main focus will be on communicating the benefits of the alliance” Tan says.
Exploring the hook-up with Lufthansa and Swiss is “very exciting”, Tan says.
The three Star Alliance members hope to adjust their schedules for flights between their respective hubs of Singapore, Frankfurt and Zurich for a more even spread of arrivals and departures, and will also work to strengthen their appeal to corporate customers.
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